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Biofortified Pearl Millet varieties to reduce Iron and Zinc Deficiency in Low Economy Countries

Dhanashakti, a new high variety bio-fortified pearl millet has been developed by the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics(ICRISAT)

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Picture of a millet field. Wikimedia Commons

Hyderabad, October 15, 2016:  Micronutrient malnutrition because of iron and zinc deficiencies is a serious public health problem in low- and middle-economy countries worldwide.

In India alone, about 80 percent of pregnant women, 52 percent of non-pregnant women, and 74 percent of children in the 6-35 months age group suffer from iron deficiency. About 52 percent of children below five years are zinc deficient.

Iron deficiency causes varying degrees of impairment in cognitive performance, learning ability, lowered work capacity, and pregnancy complications (maternal mortality and babies with low birth weight). Zinc deficiency in children causes stunting, makes them vulnerable to diarrhoea and pneumonia and can lead to death from these infections.

Crop bio-fortification, which refers to the breeding of cultivars with higher levels of micronutrients, is increasingly being recognised as a cost-effective and sustainable approach to overcoming these deficiencies in the food chain.

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Spearheaded by the HarvestPlus Programme of CGIAR (formerly Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research), global crop biofortification research was initiated by several of its centres on 12 crops, including pearl millet. This has led to several success stories based on which HarvestPlus was recognised with the World Food Prize in 2016.

Under the bio-fortification programme, the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth jointly developed a high-iron variety of pearl millet, called Dhanashakti, which was released in 2012 in Maharashtra and later in 2013 across India, making it the first mineral biofortified product of any crop cultivar released in India.

Dhanashakti has 71 mg/kg iron and 40 mg/kg zinc. It was rapidly adopted by farmers, reaching 65,000 farmers by 2015. Dhanashakti seeds are available with Nirmal Seed Company and State Seed Corporations in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan.

ICRISAT has also developed a high-iron pearl millet hybrid (ICMH 1201), which is being marketed, using Truthfully Labelled Seed (self-certification), by ShaktiVardhak Seed Company under its brand name Shakti 1201.

This hybrid has 75 mg/kg iron and 40 mg/kg zinc (similar to Dhanashakti), but it has more than 30 percent higher grain yield than Dhanashakti. In 2015, Shakti 1201 was adopted by more than 35,000 farmers.

The iron levels in the two biofortified cultivars are much higher than those reported in most of the released and commercial cultivars, which have less than 50 mg/kg iron. The zinc of these cultivars is marginally higher than many of the released and commercial cultivars.

Thus, when talking of pearl millet grains as a rich source of iron and zinc, as commonly assumed, there will be a need to talk in terms of specific cultivars.

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In this context, it should also be noted that these biofortified pearl millet varieties have much higher iron content than the best biofortified rice varieties (less than 5 mg/kg). And many, but not all, also have much higher iron content than the best biofortified wheat varieties (less than 40 mg/kg).

Similarly, many have much higher zinc content than the best biofortified rice varieties (less than 25 mg/kg), but only a few have higher zinc content than the best biofortified wheat varieties (less than 40 mg/kg).

The food uses of biofortified pearl millet varieties will go a long way to reduce iron and zinc deficiencies. For instance, based on feeding trial estimates of 7-7.5 percent bioavailability of iron in whole grain food, and assuming 240 g/day of grain consumption, Dhanashakti and Shakti 1201 would provide much more iron than the daily requirement of 0.84 mg in men, and meet 70 percent of the daily requirement of 1.65 mg in non-pregnant and non-lactating women, and 42 percent of the daily requirement of 2.8 mg in pregnant women. Above grain consumption rate will also provide 80 percent of the recommended daily allowance of 12 mg of zinc.

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Besides reducing the iron and zinc deficiencies, pearl millet has recently been gaining increasing attention as a climate change-resilient and Smart Food crop on account of its high levels of tolerance to drought, heat and soil salinity; and several nutritional traits such as high protein content with more balanced amino acid profile, high dietary fibre, gluten-free protein and phyto-chemicals.

Finally, a word of caution: These biofortified pearl millet cultivars have been developed using natural genetic variability in pearl millet and they are not GMO products. (IANS)

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Get Ready for Winters with Petroleum Jelly, Get the Glow In The Festive Season

Know the magical benefits of Petroleum Jelly and adapt beauty hacks to look best this festive season from the Vaseline experts

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Do you want glowing skin this festive season? We have got you covered. Pixabay

New Delhi, October 12, 2017 : With October comes an energizing and exciting series of festivals combined with colors, celebration and delicious food which bind everyone together. But amidst all this, we often forget taking good care of our body and skin. Not anymore!

Benefits of Petroleum Jelly
Apply Petroleum Jelly For Healthy Lips and Hairs. Pixabay.

To add to the already magical benefits of Petroleum Jelly, a Vaseline expert shares six beauty hacks to look best this festive season!

  • Smooth glossy hair: Use a little bit of Petroleum Jelly for your split ends and get sleek, glossy hair
  • DIY (Do It Yourself) Highlighter: Mix a little bit of face powder with Petroleum Jelly and dab it on your cheekbones to get that instant glow.
  • DIY Body Lotion: Mix a little of Vaseline with Sea Salt and apply it on your body after a bath. This will serve as a long-lasting lotion for your skin.
  • On the eyelids: Apply it for an instant glossy eye shadow look.
  • Eyebrow gel: A quick application of Petroleum Jelly can slick eyebrow hair back and keep them in place all day for a neat look that perfectly frames your face.
  • Soothe embroidery rashes: Apply Jelly on your skin to soothe embroidery rashes.

Lakme Beauty Expert, Donald Simrock also shares skincare hacks for bringing out your natural radiance this festive season.

Benefits of Petroleum Jelly
Get Warmness on the Hands and Feet of your Kid. Pixabay.

  • Rejuvenating and exfoliating your skin is of utmost importance. While you exfoliate your skin at least once a week, nourish it every morning to ensure you start your day with a fresh and nourished look.
  • Minimalism is all about keeping it simple while not making any compromises. Using a CC cream gives you a uniform complexion that makes your skin look flawless and has a matte finish.
  • Night time beauty regimes are a must: Cleansing your face before hitting the bed is the best way to allow your skin to breathe.
  • Having non-chapped, crack-free lips adds that extra glam to your festive look. Use one drop of the Overnight Oil in Serum to get a smooth finish before you apply a lip color. (IANS)

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Why migraines are more common among women

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New York, Feb 8 : Females are more vulnerable to certain stress-related and allergic diseases such as migraines because of distinct differences found in mast cells, a type of white blood cell that is part of the immune system, says a study.

Mast cells are an important category of immune cells because they play a key role in stress-related health issues that are typically more common in women such as allergic disorders, auto-immune diseases, migraines and irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.

“Over 8,000 differentially expressed genes were found in female mast cells compared to male mast cells,” said lead researcher Adam Moeser, Associate Professor at Michigan State University in the US.

“While male and female mast cells have the same sets of genes on their chromosomes, with the exception of the XY sex chromosomes, the way the genes act vary immensely between the sexes,” Moeser noted.

A further in-depth analysis of the genes within the RNA genome — a primary building block in all forms of life — revealed an increase in activity that is linked to the production and storage of inflammatory substances, according to the study published in the journal Biology of Sex Differences.

These substances can create a more aggressive response in the body and result in disease.

“This could explain why women, or men, are more or less vulnerable to certain types of diseases,” Moeser said.

With this new understanding of how different genes act, scientists could eventually start developing new sex-specific treatments that target these immune cells and stop the onset of disease, Moeser said. (IANS)

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Understanding Social Anxiety Disorder And The Myths Associated

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Social anxiety disorder is characterized by a significant amount of fear in one or more social situations. Flickr

Every human being once in his/her lifetime experience social awkwardness and it is not odd to experience it. Social anxiety is a general psychological problem, and yet we feel odd to share it because we are conditioned to believe that the problem is associated with being “abnormal”. This social anxiety may happen while you are presenting in a board meeting; reciting a poem in school, talking to strangers at parties.

People who experience it feel as though they are being constantly judged by the people around them. An article by writer and author Arlin Cuncic states that between 2% and 13% of the population is thought to have the problem to a level that it would be considered social anxiety disorder.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social Anxiety Disorder is a disorder in which people face social anxieties to an extent that it starts affecting their daily life activities. It is one of the most common mental disorders. People who face this problem feel as though they are the only ones to be suffering from the problem.

Causes:

Social Anxiety Disorder is believed to have generated from both environmental and genetic factors. Sometimes it may be just one of them or a combination of the both.

  • Genetic factors: It is believed that an imbalance in the neurotransmitter serotonin, a brain chemical which regulates emotions and moods play a role in the development of social anxiety disorder.
  • Environmental factors: Experienced bullying as a child, sexual abuse, and overprotective family environment can be some of the environmental factors.

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Myths associated with social anxiety disorder:

Myth 1- Social Anxiety is only fear of speaking in public

The fact is that social anxiety is anxiety and fear experienced in any/every social situation like- public speaking events; meeting strangers and interacting with them; going to spaces which mark the presence of a lot of public; disagreeing with someone.

Myth 2- Social Anxiety means that you’re only nervous

The fact is that social anxiety is not just nervousness but a collection of several symptoms like trembling hands, irrational thinking, and sweat.

Myth 3- Social Anxiety is a problem that you just have to live with

Living with social anxiety is not an advice to be given. What if a person’s social anxiety reaches a level where he/she cannot move from his/her home? There are medically proven solutions to this problem. Effective medication and behavioral therapy are highly recommended in cases of social anxiety disorder.

Despite living in the 21st century and being cognizant of human psychology and its growing problems, we associate mental health problems with being “crazy” and a “shame” to the society. If we need to combat psychological problems, we must start educating people and especially children about it. There must be textbook lessons and interactive sessions on mental health for children. If children are cognizant of the problems from a very young age, most of the psychological illness, the world is facing would be easily controlled.

by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.